9/11 and Civil Liberties

This lesson explores the challenges the United States faced as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and examines the government’s response through the lens of protection and civil liberties. Students will consider the long-term effects of the emergency measures, their consequences and constitutionality, and how they might inform the balance between security and liberty today.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Modules (Teaching Unit)

LGBTQ Activism and Contributions Primary Source Set

The lives, freedom struggles, and social and cultural contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people make up a rich part of the history of the United States, and primary sources from the Library of Congress provide valuable opportunities to explore individuals, movements, and events from the nation’s LGBTQ history.

Second Amendment: D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago

The film “Second Amendment: D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago” examines the history of guns and gun ownership in our society from the Revolutionary War to modern times and the complicated debate over what the founders intended when they wrote the Second Amendment. Does it protect a right of individuals to keep and bear arms? Or is it a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard? 

Stars and Stripes Forever: Flag Facts for Flag Day

Students will learn what a symbol is and how this particular symbol—the American flag—is an important part of our everyday lives. Learning the history of the flag will help instill in students respect for our national symbol and help them learn appropriate etiquette regarding our flag. Students will learn that other symbols of our country, such as the president and certain holidays, like Flag Day, are important to us as well. Students can also contribute symbols from their familial, ethnic and national cultures to show the diversity of American society and its links to other parts of the world.

Comparing American and French Revolutionary Documents

This activity engages students in a comparison of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. Students will focus on analyzing message, purpose, and audience. Students should complete the activity with an understanding that while the ideals underlying the two documents were very similar, the purpose and audience of the two documents differed significantly.

To Sign or Not to Sign

Students will consider the arguments made by members of the Continental Congress regarding whether or not to sign the Declaration of Independence. They will also have the opportunity to analyze each section of the Declaration to understand its meaning and consider the consequences of signing the document.

Grades 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Fabric of History Podcasts

From the Bill of Rights Institute, Fabric of History weaves together U.S. history, Founding Principles, and what all of this means to us today. Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they delve into the most controversial, inspirational, and hilarious moments of history and strive to find the common thread between them.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy

Court Shorts: Jury Service, Hands-on Justice

Jury service is an example of hands-on participation in democracy. In a five-minute video, 11 federal judges talk about jury service as an opportunity for citizens to be part of the judicial process that has an impact on daily life. The video, which deals with Constitutional principles and the practicalities of jury service, is part of the Court Shorts video series that includes installments on the rule of law and separation of powers.